Friday, August 29, 2008


We're all about improvement here at AL. Which is why I'm totally watching To-Fu's 'poo-less experience with great interest. To be free of shampoo's bonds!!

On my own improvement front, here at Casa Beany we've broken up with the television. We're on break at least.

It started Wednesday morning when I opted for a no TV morning after some sibling squabbling. They whined a while and then things got amazing. Seriously. They played with each other better, played outside more, were calmer and had better attitudes. This is after skipping just their regular morning hour of PBS. I decide I hate children's programing at this point and we skip their afternoon hour also in favor of playing samurai. I can't express enough how just skipping these two hours made them CALMER. And this is Curious George we're talking about. I can't imagine if they regularly viewed super hyper shows.

We've gone three full television-free days now. I am thrilled that I stumbled on this challenge. I really thought of the TV as a sanity saver and considered their 2 hours quite moderate. As I step back and look, it caused more harm than good in our house. We've collectively decided to keep er off weekdays and enjoy favorite cartoons and movies on weekends only.

I want to state that I do not think TV is evil and it does have great value. I think it's a tool and easily gets used as a necessity. There have been countless articles and reports on the damage to children by the telly. Most of which, to be honest, I ignored. We don't have the TV on all day long, we don't put on weird shows for our babies, we don't watch during meals, we monitor closely the content of their programs, they spend only a couple hours in front of it, we spend time reading and playing together has well, I have three kids at home! I don't have time to read these reports that aren't for me. They were. Are. The proof has been in the pudding, as it usually is.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The No-Poo Hair Solution

Hey, y'all, I'm de-pooing! My hair, that is. I've stopped using shampoo and conditioner, but never fear: I still wash my hair. I just use baking soda and apple cider vinegar (ACV) instead.

Why ditch the 'poo? The two biggies:

1--To avoid harmful/toxic ingredients in many shampoos and conditioners

2----To achieve a natural oil balance (your scalp--like your boobs if you're breastfeeding--works on demand, meaning that it makes as much oil as is required. Shampoos strip your hair of oil, so if you wash frequently your scalp is constantly trying to make up for what's stripped by cranking up the oil production... which causes you to have to shampoo more often. See where I'm headed here? No-pooing gently corrects the problem over time and returns your scalp to a natural oil-producing cycle.)

And I bet I save a ton of money, too, considering I was buying a chemical-laden and high-end vegan brand of shampoo/conditioner (Pureology). $50 for a pair of bottles! Ow, my wallet.

This is just Day One for me, but my hair smells and feels great! (Don't worry, the ACV rinses right out and there is no lingering smell.) It's shiny, full, and not oily in the least. But don't freak out if you have a detox period during which your mane is less than marvelous--it's totally normal and not permanent.

HOW TO DO NO 'POO: I simply made a paste from baking soda and water in a refillable plastic bottle, and in another plastic spray bottle I used a 1:4 ratio of ACV to water. A good scrub/massage with hot water and the baking soda paste helps dislodge any gunk. Then I liberally sprayed my hair with ACV, let it sit for a few minutes while I went about my other shower business, and rinsed my hair with cold water to help keep things shiny and healthy. I'll probably do the ACV 2-3 times a week and the baking soda paste slightly less often (I've heard it can be a bit drying). If you want a nice smell, consider adding small amounts of essential oil to the mix.

For photos of other no-pooers, click here. To see one woman's no-poo photo progression, click here. By the by, the No 'Poo Community on LJ is a great source of information and support if you're thinking about taking the plunge or are just curious.

I'll be back with an update in a while. In the meantime, let us know if you're taking the no-poo challenge!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Third Way

I’m taking a couple of minutes to share a few short reflections on some parenting I observed last night that has really left an impression on me.

My husband and I were making dinner (he more than I, admittedly), and as had happened for most of the day, my two older boys started fighting over a particular train, again. It was Henry. He had been missing around the house for a few weeks, but showed up in a basket of animals the other afternoon, and since then, he's been in high demand. On that old chestnut of “Sharing,” we're still trying to work through things.

So the screaming started. And the screaming has been pretty frequent lately, and it's an annoying kind of angry elementary school girl scream that kind of curls your toes and leaves an after-ring in your ears. Not cool.

My husband ran into the living room. I kept working in the kitchen, and listened to what was transpiring in the next room.

My secondborn was distraught that his older brother had the train. #2 was angry and wanted everyone in this part of the state to hear about it. My eldest was not interested in giving up the train; after all, his brother had managed to scream his way into playing with it for most of the last 48 hours. Why shouldn't he have a turn? Now seemed as good a time as any. Yes, he certainly wanted a turn with Henry, and wasn't about to let his little brother get his way by screaming, again. I could feel the tension building all the way around the corner, and I wondered what would happen when their father stepped in.

What are the options here, really? Let it work itself out? Surely, all children have to learn how to manage their differences at one time or another, right? Except that we don't want them hurting one another, and we want to help them recognize the needs and feelings of one another in the process, and young children, full of love as they are, are also developing a keen sense of self, and sometimes that overshadows their empathy. It's an ego they can't help, really, and respectful, nurturing intervention helps them see the position of their friend/brother/competitor-for-toys. The passive let-it-work-itself-out tactic didn't seem called for in this situation.

So should my husband do the swooping-in-parenting move? Take the train away from my firstborn and give it to his younger brother? Well, we don't really know how it all started, since we were in the kitchen to begin with. Maybe #2 had the train and #1 swiped it. Or maybe #1 was playing with it and #2 remembered that he's kind of had a thing for the train lately, and thought this was a good time to rekindle that most intimate relationship of a train and its lover. Or should we just take the train away from both of them, cause we're the parents, and we're entitled to do whatever we want to do? (Though admittedly, if we really just wanted the crying to stop, this was only going to product the opposite result: two screaming kids.) Would Daddy just walk in and do something authoritative to solve the problem?

But my husband did something totally different than either of these two options. He walked into the living room, saw the situation, and with a sense of (almost) excitement in his voice, asked, "Hey, why don't you let Daddy play with Henry? Can I play with you guys?" The boys couldn't have been more thrilled with that arrangement, and gladly surrendered their train to Daddy, who showed real enthusiasm in playing together with them around the train table for a few minutes, while their feelings of competition quelled and they remembered how much fun it was just to play together.

This decision reminded me of what writer and theologian Walter Wink calls “The Third Way,” as a means of breaking cycles of violence without resorting to passive resignation— finding a way to turn the conflict on its head with creative love.

I think that what my husband did was brilliant. It didn't make a decision about the conflict, choosing one child over the other, or sweeping authoritarianism in place of throw-up-your-hands passivity. Instead, it found a playful response that reminded the boys of the point of their trains- to enjoy them together. It creatively infused my husband’s love and his participation into the situation, and his engagement with them was the answer to the whole problem. Rather than be “right” or get to play with the trains themselves, my boys were happiest with getting to have their daddy involved in what they were doing.

So much of child-led living revolves around this idea- not of being passive as parents, just permissively letting our kids walk all over us. And not parenting with the "Because I say so" or "Because I'm the Parent" argument. Child-led living is treating our kids and each other as autonomous people, worthy of respect and open-minded compassion. Of being engaged, interested, and involved in what they are doing and thinking, rather than just observing and judging or controlling it from the sidelines. Yes, it involves a lot more time than other conventional forms of parenting, what sometimes feels like infinite amounts of energy, patience, and creativity, but it's the kind of love that I believe we are called to demonstrate to the world, starting with our own children. It's treating one another as human beings and working as peacemakers in our own homes.

Thanks to my husband, for reminding me of how creative love is really the best answer.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Lessons of Okinawa

I remember reading this article shortly after the birth of my now 5 year old. It has lingered with me since (a rarity for me), flitting in and out of my thoughts often when they turn to child rearin'.

When I saw it in my inbox this afternoon, tucked in my new AP newsletter, I took it as a sign to pass it on. Some afternoon food for thought!

The Lessons of Okinawa

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Layout giveaway!

Looks like Ruby & Roja are giving away a free blog design. Check here for details.

They've got their dirty fingerprints all over one of my favorite mama blogs (Adventures in Babywearing), so I thought I'd pass it on.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Telling It Like It Is: Being Honest About Body Parts

A few days ago, while sitting with a group of mothers at the beach, we were all captivated by one of the babies. He was naked, tumbling around in the sand. He was dancing, rolling, laughing, and then, he grabbed his penis. He was just so at home with his nakedness. He knew nothing of shame, and he did not know that some of the other mothers looked away when he grabbed his penis. He was not embarrassed. Another little boy pointed and said to his mama, “Wee-wee.” I absolutely loved it when the first little baby’s mama said out loud “OH, you are grabbing your penis!” It was a joyful statement. It was an honest statement.

I am a strong believer in calling body parts by their proper names. My 4 year old daughter knows she has a vulva, a vagina, breasts. We have openly and honestly called her body parts by their proper names since the day she was born. She has always been an asker, and I have been an answerer. She has seen me menstruate and she has asked. I have always answered her questions about her body and about my body. She once asked for a mirror to look at her vulva. I handed her a mirror and answered her questions.

I want my daughter to OWN her body. I feel she can best own her body when she has words to name her body parts. If something hurts, she needs to know the proper names to tell me or her doctor what is hurting. If there was ever an abusive situation I want her to have words to use to explain what happened. I want her to be empowered. I feel that giving her the proper names to her body parts empowers her.

World Breastfeeding weeks brings the word ‘breasts' to mind. I don’t often hear women and mothers using the word 'breasts.' I hear a lot about 'boobs.' I remember when I learned that a boob was an ignorant and foolish person. My breasts are not foolish, nor are they ignorant. They are beautiful, very intelligent, life sustaining breasts. I no longer call my breasts 'boobs.' I want my daughter to have a healthy relationship with the word 'breast.' I want her to love and respect her breasts so that one day her breasts will be life sustaining as well.

As for the second little boy at the beach who called a penis a "wee-wee”: why not teach him the word penis? He is still at the age where he is one with his body. I like to see honesty. I want my son to know he has a penis and a scrotum. I feel that what is not said becomes a secret. Secrets often lead to shame. Babies and kids have no shame with their bodies. But they are like sponges and they can easily soak up ours. We as parents should be proud of our bodies, our kids are learning from us. I want both my daughter and my son to be proud of their bodies.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

[Guest Post] Success or Failure: A Mom Who Couldn't Breastfeed Honors World Breastfeeding Week

Attachment Living wishes to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week by welcoming guest bloggers to talk about their breastfeeding experiences. Today's post comes to you by way of E:

August 1 began World Breastfeeding Week. We all know breast is best, and we recognize the value of the breastfeeding relationship. Even formula cans remind us that breast milk is best. But what about when it doesn't work?

I wanted to breastfeed. I planned for it. I looked forward to it. I bought the books, went to La Leche League, and met with a wonderful lactation consultant before my daughter was born all in hopes of circumventing the issues that can come from PCOS and hypothyroidism. I took the appropriate medications and learned about the ways to increase supply. I went in with an attitude focused on success.

And then my daughter was born. She was put to the breast quickly. She had a beautiful latch without much work. We had great support once we were out of the hospital. We were doing all the right things. And we worked so hard. But there wasn't milk. Not enough. We battled with the low supply, doing all the right things, staying skin to skin, breastfeeding as often as possible, pumping after, using the SNS, taking the herbs and the drugs. It still wasn't enough. We had to supplement...and we're so very lucky to have wonderful milk donors, but it just isn't the same. When feeding my daughter became more of a battle than a joy, I had to make some tough decisions. When one or both of us ended up in tears every time, when she started to refuse to latch, we switched to pumping and bottles.

And all the breastfeeding advocacy around me is so hard to deal with. Well meaning people who provide their suggestions for increasing milk supply..."have you tried?" Yes. All of it. And probably some things you haven't thought of. I want to embrace this week, celebrate it, honor it and it hurts too much. I've cried more tears than I want to count over the World Breastfeeding Week stuff I've seen.

I went to a party with my daughter not long ago, and when I was offered a seat someone asked if I would need the chair that was better for nursing. I cried inside as I explained our breastfeeding challenges. I've started to avoid gatherings where the default assumption is that mothers are breastfeeding-the local AP groups, for example. I wanted to be one of those mothers who celebrated the looks they got for nursing in public, and instead, I mourn what I don't have. I have the so called convenience of bottles-I need to pack them in our bag when we go out, find a place to warm the milk she drinks, deal with the extra gas, the uncertainty about whether she's getting the right nutrients for her needs right now. And I know in my heart that I am judged harshly for the way I feed my daughter.

Like many of us, I try and incorporate the eight principles of attachment parenting in my life. I read the page that says "Feed with Love and Respect." How can I feed with love and respect when the act of feeding my daughter causes me to cry over what I can't do for her? How can I honor myself and the nurturing loving role that I am supposed to play in this part of her life when what I feel overwhelmed with failure. And then I look at her, I cuddle her, I watch her sweet face as she dozes off in my arms and I'm reminded deeply of how much I love her, and that in the end that love overwhelms everything.

I know whatever I've given my daughter is good for her. I know that every bit of milk she gets from me is good for her, and I know that the milk she's gotten is far more than some other babies get. But I will forever carry sadness and guilt about not being able to provide the most basic thing that a mother is supposed to provide for her baby.

Celebrate World Breastfeeding Week. Enjoy and cherish the nurturing and loving breastfeeding relationship you have. Share extra breast milk if you can-there are wonderful networks of mothers in need, both through formal and informal means. As a recipient of donated milk, it means more to me than I could ever express, and I honor and celebrate the success and joy and love that you've found in nursing your own children. I wish I could do the same for myself, and for the relationship I have with my daughter.

I hope that in your travels you remember there are mothers like me who would love to have what you do. I hope that someone, somewhere out there remembers to honor and respect the mothers like me who have really and truly done it all, who eye you nursing your children and envy what you have. I will never have the beautiful nursing relationship that I dreamed of with my daughter, the sweet nursing moments that you don't remember but that I wish for. I will work hard to make up for it in other ways. I will work towards a loving and respectful relationship with her, and despite my mother's reminders that "She'll never thank you for that" one day I will tell her that I tried very hard to breastfeed her and I will share the story of her milk Mamas, and make sure she knows how much she is loved.

In her pre-motherhood days, E worked as a social worker, with a focus on public health topics like sexual health. Now she is learning to navigate the new and crazy world of motherhood as a guide to her daughter, Nacho, born in April 2008. Check out her new blog, Evolution of Mom.